Panel: Put landfill report in writing
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has been instructed to issue a written report on how the department's multimillion-dollar takeover of a Baxter County landfill could have been avoided.
The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which oversees the department, voted Friday to request a written report. A year ago, Commissioner Wesley Stites asked the department to provide him such report to explain the landfill situation to him.
Stites asked department Director Becky Keogh on Friday why he had not yet received a report.
Stites also mentioned his frustration over another regulation that he'd asked about but had not received any information about.
"I'm starting to get the feeling from the department that my role is to rubber stamp whatever the h*** you want me to," he said.
"I want to know what the department is going to do to keep us from getting into a .... hole again," Stites added.
Keogh said she had understood that an oral report would suffice.
Stites said he believes that local entities made mistakes that resulted in the North Arkansas Board of Regional Sanitation landfill becoming financially unsustainable, but he wondered why the state department, which oversees regional solid waste management districts, hadn't intervened sooner in that case.
Keogh said the department can't always prevent decisions made on a local level and that the department works with solid waste districts to track the financial status of landfills.
The financially and environmentally troubled North Arkansas Board of Regional Sanitation landfill has been run by the Department of Environmental Quality since 2014, although the Ozark Mountain Regional Solid Waste District owns it. The district voted to default on a $12.3 million bond in 2012, when it stopped collecting trash. Trash collection was its only source of revenue.
In May, the department signed a $12.9 million contract with KOLB Grading LLC of Weldon Spring, Mo., to clean up the landfill. As part of being in receivership with the department, the district is to reimburse the department for the cleanup and for another project to clean up a dump of 1 million tires next to the landfill.
Keogh, Spencer rise in U.S. groups
Two Arkansas environmental leaders have risen in leadership positions at national environmental groups.
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Becky Keogh has been elected vice president of the Environmental Council of States, a group consisting of leaders of environmental agencies in all 50 states and two territories. Keogh served for the past year as secretary-treasurer.
Stuart Spencer, the department's associate director in charge of the office of air quality, was elected president of Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies.
Spencer previously served as vice president.
NW News on 09/25/2017
Print Headline: Environmental notebook